Pre-Trap Setup

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Your trapping day is getting closer, and you’ve done a lot already! You’ve decided on an area to target for Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR), you’ve spoken to community members about how you plan to help kitties, and you’ve figured out how to best prepare the cats for trapping day. Great work!

There are just a few more logistical steps to ensure that your trapping day is a success. But don’t worry, we’ve broken down everything else you need to think about!

5 Steps to the Final Countdown to TNR

1. Trapping Kit

Prior to your trapping day, you’ll want to assemble a handy trapping kit. Think of this bag or tote as your one stop shop for any item you might need while trapping cats. Common items to include in your trapping essentials kit are: bait for traps, plastic forks or spoons, extra newspaper, trap covers, tape, trap tags, and pens.

For a complete list of items to gather ahead of time, check out our Equipment List.

2. One Trap Per Cat

When planning the amount of traps to bring along, it’s best to have at least one trap per cat. Always bring extra traps just in case any malfunction or are damaged during trapping. Of course, you always want to take the safety of the cats into consideration, so practice setting traps ahead of time to become as comfortable with it as possible.

3. Label Your Traps

Since traps can look threatening and suspicious to those not familiar with the TNR process, it’s best to label your traps with your name, phone number, and a message about what you are doing (i.e. “Trapping for veterinary care in progress. Cats will not be harmed and should not be touched.”). To make sure the labels survive the weather, cover them with a plastic sleeve or bag.

4. Make Spay or Neuter Appointments

To keep your kitties be as stress-free as possible, you don’t want to keep them in traps for any longer than necessary before going to the clinic (12 hours max). Plan ahead and make spay and neuter appointments for the same day or the next morning  after trapping, and make as many appointments as the number of traps you have (be ambitious!), even though you may not catch a cat in every trap.

Find a low-cost veterinarian or spay and neuter clinic through our Feral Friends Network.

5. Prepare Holding Area if Needed

If you have to wait until the next day for spay/neuter appointments, prepare a holding area to keep the cats. This area could be a bathroom, basement, garage, or even the veterinarian’s office if they’ll allow it. For the safety of the cats, the area should be quiet, inaccessible to other animals, and secure.

You can also use this area to hold kitties as they recover from surgery. Remember, despite their natural fur coats, cats in recovery cannot regulate their own body temperature. Always choose a dry, temperature-controlled holding area (about 75 degrees).

Trapping can be overwhelming, so write up a plan including every tool you need and steps to take to complete the Trap-Neuter-Return process. And always plan around the weather. Trapping in extreme temperatures can be dangerous for cats. A good rule of thumb is if the weather is too extreme for you to be outside, it’s too extreme to trap!

Here are more preparation tips:

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